Wednesday, January 31, 2007

I love you, I love you, I luh-uh-ove you. I want to make you mine.

I lurve my friends and family.

I'm proud of my family and fond of my friends.


Sunday, January 28, 2007

Sometimes I wonder what people say behind my back.

Sometimes I know.

I know they say good things, sometimes they tell me what those are. But they're bound to say bad things too - judgmental things - truthful things - narrow perspective things.

I mean, that's what we do to them, right?

You've been there. You've criticized, generalized, rolled your eyes. And you've been there when they've said things about someone who you love and their comments hit a little to close to home. A couple of friends make fun of one of your bf's and you sort of smile at their generalization, but it stings a little - even if it is a little true. Two types of behind the back, and they both hurt. The only variable is the who.

So don't you wonder what they say about you?

"What a drama queen." Eye roll.
"Well, she blows everything out of proportion." Head shake.
"She's an idealist. She can't have it all." Arms thrown up in the air.
"She couldn't keep a man to save her soul." Coffee sipped with a very knowing look.

Is that what they say behind my back? Those who obviously don't appreciate my drama or love me more for the fact that I make a great queen.

Don't you kind of wonder? Cause I know what they say about you.

And sometimes I want to tell you. Sometimes I want to scream: "Don't you know what they're saying about you? Is that how you want to be known?" I mean really, how can we know unless someone tells us?

But I don't really want to be told, because what they say is usually only half the story.

Sometimes not. Sometimes men really are only all about sex, and they really are that shallow. Sometimes women really do over-react to everything and they really are always paranoid. Sometimes people really are that self-consumed, or that manipulative, or that obsessed, or that narrow-minded, or that fill-in-the-blank.

But sometimes those assessments are only half the story.

I've been criticized at least twice in my life for writing about "drama" on my blog and making it seem like my world is awful just to draw attention to myself. These criticisms make me sad, but they also remind me that people don't know the whole story. I love making people laugh or think and often when I write about men falling through my ceiling or accidentally buying a stolen car or my cat trying to eat my poor fish, I want to communicate not only what is going through my life, but also in a comedic, story-telling way. And sometimes I write about when I am sad and I do that to counteract the false-hood that Christians are always happy-go-lucky people who constantly count their blessings and never grieve. And sometimes I write about ex-boyfriends (always very inconspicuously) because you know everyone can relate to that. :)

So if someone were to say the aforementioned to me, I would know they only know half the story about this story-teller and although the misunderstanding would make me a little sad, I wouldn't stop blogging because of it.

But today as I watched two people criticize someone else with the typical eye roll and head shake, (and even though I agreed with them), I wondered what they say about me behind my back. And I wonder about telling the person they said those things about. How would that person respond?

This is no great commentary on life nor is it a narrative on the depravity of the human existence. I'm just honestly wondering what people say about me behind my back and if they say it in love with a smile (and that's why they love me) or if they count it as a defect in my character. And I wonder what would happen if we all told other people what other people say about them and if it would create total chaos, war and enmity or if it would cause us to pause, do some self-reflection and change.

Because surely some of it is bullshit and easy to write off. But surely some of it is truth too.

Someone at church commented the other day how hard it must be for a minister (me) to point out when people are doing bad or stupid things. I just kept quiet cause unless I've been asked to be the finger-pointer, I don't tend to tell parishioners when I think they're sinning. Geez, I mean, who am I to judge? Hypocritical me. Grace covers them (and me) right? They don't need me to finger-point or even just point out the obvious - right? That's not my job. My job is when they acknowledge their own shortcomings and seek repentance - my job is to remind them that grace has already set them free - to go and sin no more. And I count on my "pastors" to offer me the same reminder of the Truth of Jesus Christ. That's my job right?

Well, I don't know when this blog turned into a job therapy session, and i'll probably delete it tomorrow when I wake up, but these are just some things that popped into my head today when I watched people behind-the-back criticize their friend.

Something we all do every day...

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

This blog is for George.

I doubt George reads my blog. I doubt George will ever read my blog. But blogworld, I want you to know about George.

On Sunday I went in to work and when I got to the College Sunday School room, I discovered my teal, hand-crafted bowl with turtles on it, lovingly given to me by my younger sister when I was in college was in the trash. Broken. Broken in the trash.

I did not have a panic attack. I did pitch a huge fit.

Warrented. All of it.

There is an organization that meets at my church during the week and uses some of our rooms. I noticed they used my small college room when I found food and trash all over it one Sunday morning. I told the building manager; a custodian now cleans that one small room every week after they meet. Then they started erasing what my teacher had been writing on the board during Bible study and referencing week to week. We have plenty of small rooms all over the building. I asked the business manager to reassign them a new room that isn't currently being used for Sunday school. Not a big deal. We've got tons of rooms and space just for that.

Then I found the broken bowl.

Can I just say that that handmade bowl has survived, count with me, wait for it... at least six moves that I can think of including one from Missouri to Texas. What could they have possibly done that would have broken that very thick (you know how bowls are when you start off throwing pots) bowl?

I was so angry. And so hurt. And it wasn't just a bowl, it was a bowl with turtles (and that has meaning) and it has my sisters fingerprints and fingernail marks in it (and that has meaning) and i got it in college (and that has meaning) and i loved it and wanted to share it with my college students. in their room it held small stones with words like hope, peace, love, and joy etched in them.

Why did that group mess with the hope, peace, love, and joy and break the bowl?

I was hurt and I was angry so I took the small trashcan from the Sunday School room down to my office as evidence to show my business manager the next day and repeat my request to re-locate this group. One of my college students consoled me by suggesting that he could probably glue it back together. Love them.

But it was gone the next morning.

I went into my office and discovered the trash had been emptied. Not just my ugly metal can, but the cute plastic one from the S.S. room with my evidence and my bowl in it. I am officially an idiot.

Panic returned, but a sense of loss replaced it.

I told my business manager about what had happened.

"The trash was emptied just this morning, do you want to go look for it?"
"No I have to go now and get back in an hour for Deacon's meeting tonight. I don't want to look for the pieces of my bowl in the trash."
"Are you sure?"
"Yes, I'm sure. I'm not digging through a trash dumpster. It's not a big deal, it's just that my sister made me that bowl and I was going to try and put it back together. But it's fine. It's gone. It happens. I'll get over it. I'm just disappointed and upset at that group for breaking it."

After Deacon's meeting, George, one of our custodians, approached me.

"Ann, did you have a pot in the trash?"
"Huh?" I was a little confused after having just come out of a two hour meeting that fried my brain.
"A bowl in the trash that was yours?"
"Um... oh! Oh yes. Why?"
"I got it. It's on your desk."
"You what?"
"I got it out of trash."
"George no! You didn't! I told Marshall no. Oh no - you didn't dig through the trash did you?"
"It was right on top. I had the cleaner wash it. It's on your desk now."

I grabbed George in a huge hug right there in the youth quad with half the deacons standing around.

"George, I'm so sorry. But thank you so much."

He just shook his head like it were no big deal. "It's on your desk in a bag."

I almost cried driving home. Every day George and I greet each other. Every once in a while, we share specifics about grand-children or worship or whatever. But George searched the trash for the special bowl my sister made me and that generous act took our friendship to a whole bowl new level.

And so this is my shout out to George.


Sunday, January 21, 2007

Lynnette tagged me to write a six word story.

"If it's illegal, naivety will buy."

I tag Michelle, Summer, Frank, Sarah P., and Alexis.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

It's been raining for 9 days straight. 9 days.

"9 times."

"9 times?"

"9 times."

"Beep...beep...beep....beep....beep...beep...beeeeeep." And Farris Bueller reduces it on Rooney's computer from 9 days absent to 2 days absent.

Lucky bastard.

I've been absent all week. For unfortately no computer, no matter how smart, can change 9 days of rain or 9 months of bad luck or 9 years of wrong boyfriends in anyone's life.

And so we suck it up buttercup, put our best foot forward, our raincoat on, and keep right on truckin. Sorry for all the mixed metaphors. But I'll take whatever mixers I can get to get me through this mixed up state I'm in.

Remember when I bought that stolen car three years ago? Riiiiight. Unfortunately, I can't talk online about what I'm going through right now, but suffice it to say that the lot of it together is draining me emotionally, spiritually, physically, and mentally (I have bad dreams).

I can't take many more days of rain. And I sure as hell wouldn't have made it through 40. But 40 may be what i get.

And Zorba and Potter load the ark.

40 days is a long time. 9 days is just the beginning.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

So Christmas Vacation and Snow Days necessitate movie watching. Here's what I've seen over the past month and my personal (and definately professional) critique. On a five star two thumb scale...

Talledega Nights -

4 stars, two thumbs up. Love, no, lurve the Prayer scene. "Dear eight point two pound baby Jesus..." Love it.

The Devil Wears Prada -

3 stars, two thumbs up. Meryl (who i always confuse with Glen) was fabulous. Of course. Love her.

Night at the Museum -

3 stars, two thumbs up. Ben is fabulous and Dick Van is of course one of my favorites. Not to mention Owen Wilson "That makes me sad." A good flic.

The Constant Gardner -

five stars. two thumbs up. Amazing movie about Africa, conspiracy and love. Rent it.

Pirates of the Carribean II -

3 stars, two thumbs up. I love Johnny Depp and my friends and I argued over whether it would be fun to be married to him. I vote yes... but I was also one of only two single people in the room. Long but good. Waiting for the third one!

The Matador -

2 stars, two thumbs down. lame boy-bonding movie that i heard was rad but just plain wasn't. ew.

The Holiday -

three stars, two thumbs up. long but good. plus Jude Law is, well, Jude Law.

Nacho Libre -

three stars, two thumbs up. what can i say, jack black is jack black. always go in with no expectations, always come out happy. "sometimes, adults just like to wear tights."

Raising Arizona -

three stars, two thumbs up. an oldie but a goodie - and i'd never seen it. That was quickly remedied and i soon realized that Hi's hilarious.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

It's snowing!!

I don't think you can actually see the snowflakes in this picture. And truth be told, I don't think it's snowing anymore, more sleeting/hail something or other. But the kids are estatic cause school was cancelled as of last night and I've already seen three walk/skip by my window trying to capture snow/ice from people's yards to make a snowball. Good luck.

But there was snow for a minute. Here's proof. My birdfeeder, roses, chair, etc.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

I made it.

"I made it this far," I sighed with relief as I settled on the bus and it pulled out of FBC at 6:47pm. I got everyone on the bus. That's amazing. I felt very adult-like.

That was yesterday. I am surrogate youth minister for retreats and wednesday nights as our youth minister is on sabbatical. My first "retreat" actually being the one is charge. I'm used to leading worship, or teaching or playing cards, but being responsible for 25 little lives? It was daunting. Not to mention the "If this gets screwed up you're dead meat" sound system and the lighting system for the dance Saturday nigh (also not mine) , and of course my own trusty college projector and computer which could also bring a price for my head if ruined or stolen.

No pressure.

And then there were the students.

"I cannot believe you're making us go home."
"I didn't make that decision."
"I can't believe you won't let us have a lock-in at the church instead."
"None of the other counselors will stay, I can't do it by myself."
"I can't believe you won't let us have a slumber party at your house."
"Some of your parents would be more panicked about you staying the night in my neighborhood than they would about us driving back in ice. Get a grip. I'll make it up to you. There's another youth retreat in two weeks."
"That retreat's for youth led worship. Don't try and trick us. You owe us big."


Is this what normal youth ministers experience?

I think the "three musketeers" are no longer speaking to me. This is not much of a change since they never listen to me either (14 year old boys), so what's one more sense lost?

"What are you going to do if it's sunny tomorrow here, Miss Pittman?" (I hate it when they call me that. They only do it to get under my skin and it works).

"Well, I guess I'll see you at church then. But it won't be sunny. There's an ice storm coming tomorrow."

And Austin is panicking. They're considering shutting down the city for two days Monday and Tuesday.


Truth be told, if we were in Missouri or Colorado and conditions were as they were at Glen Rose, I wouldn't have thought twice about the roads. We'd have stayed the whole weekend. But this is Texas which means several things: 1. Texans panic at the thought of ice or snow or sleet, 2. they have no clue how to drive on or in any of the aforementioned states, and 3. they have no salt on the roads which, if the ground actually gets cold enough that it ices, it is dangerous.

So it's best we left.

Although the students would have preferred to be stranded with one another at the retreat center. It sounds very romantic now, but how about on Monday evening when we're still there and they're sick of playing cards and basketball? I can just hear it, "Now what can we do?"

But they're such a great group of kids. They just like to raz me. They love me, but whenever I claim to be the youth minister, they're always quick to remind me, "substitute."

I actually only had to play that card once. Last night around 1:15am when we could hear the boys talking and howling through the walls. I threw back the covers and marched over to their door, politely banged on it and stuck my head into the dark room. "This is Ann, I'm playing the youth minister card. Now shut it."

It worked.

They really are swell kids.

And I made it.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

um, so according to yahoo, january 11 is national break-up day. so hurray! i didn't get dumped (or duped) for the third time this year!

oh wait, it's 2007.

i haven't been dumped at all this year. that's bound to improve my self-esteem! thanks josie for that completely pointless, yet somewhat humorous bit of information about national break-up day. i'm sure all singletons and smug marrieds who are still dating as of 11:59 tonight are relieved.

cheers to not being broken up with.


Good Job Missouri! I love you.

(Click on the above link to find out why - sorry you have to watch a commercial first!)

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

(telephone rings)
MOM: Ann, did you let Zorba go outside today?
ANN: (puzzled) No, why?
MOM: Well I heard that 40 to 60 birds died suddenly in Austin today and I just wondered if you Zorba out.


Yes. 64 birds died today in downtown Austin.
No. My sweet cat did not eat or maul them.
Yes. They're being sent to A&M (vet school capital of the world) to be examined.
No. They don't know what's wrong with them.
Yes. They blocked off downtown (two blocks from where I work) during a very inconvenient time of day.
No. They found nothing wrong with the air.
Yes. Rumor is two policemen who worked Congress last night called into work nauseous today.
No. I do not feel sick and although I did have a moment of panic, have not yet hypochondriaced myself into thinking I have acquired what the birds have.
Yes. I just made up that word hypochondriaced.
No. I am not actually a hypochondriac.

I'll keep you updated. Provided there are no more wise cracks about the temperament of my cats.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

This is what I will preach tonight at Beresheth...

New Year’s Resolutions, I hate them.

I’m going to get skinny, I’m going to get in shape, I’m going to stop smoking, I’m going to drink less, I’m going to get a boyfriend, I’m going on at least one date a month, I’m going to read my bible every day, I’m going to start going to church, I’m going to call my mom more, and on and on and on.

I hate them because I think when we make these resolutions we set ourselves up for failure.

Inevitably we sneak in just one cigarette after lunch, inevitably, we get toasted at our best friend’s birthday bash, inevitably, we don’t end up asking out that girl we’d been wanting to, inevitably, we go back to eating a snickers with lunch at work for that extra energy boost, inevitably we check our calendars and it’s been three weeks since we’ve been to the gym, inevitably, mom calls and kvetches about why we don’t call her more.

Damn. We blew it.

And then we feel bad about ourselves and the cycle starts all over.

I mean, have you been reading the quotes? Half of them are optimistic about looking ahead and new beginnings and the other half are pessimistic. Mark Twain says you can have your glorious resolutions on New Year’s Day but you’ll be back paving the way to hell come January 2nd. Helpful.

But you know, I think we get guilt a lot in churches although many churches don’t mean to communicate it. You need to be a good person churches tell us. You need to help the poor. You need to tithe. You need to forgive your enemies. You need to be nicer to your parents. You need to be ethical at your job. You need to be faithful to your spouse. And when we’re not perfect, we feel guilty. I think this translates through resolution-making too. If we’re Christians and our resolutions are based in what we believe about God – that we need to take care of our bodies which are described in the bible as God’s temple, that we need to take care of each other because we are called to love neighbor and enemy, that we need to study ancient scripture and participate in a faith community – if we make resolutions that are based in our philosophy of faith, then not only have we let ourselves down when we break our resolutions (or perhaps never even get started on them) we let God down too.

And that’s why I hate resolutions. I can handle being angry with myself, but I can’t handle the idea that I’ve disappointed God.

And the truth of the matter is God doesn’t want me feeling either way.

Our text tonight is from Isaiah when the Israelites are still in Babylon. Let me remind you of where we are in the story. You’ve got the primeval history (Adam, Eve and Noah) and then the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (and the matriarchs, Sarah, Rebecca and Rachel), and then you’ve got the Israelites stuck as slaves in Egypt and Moses comes and leads them out. Then there’s the period of the judges (Deborah and Samson) and then the period of the kings (Saul, David, Solomon) and then the kingdom of Israel divides into north and south and low and behold when they’re at their weakest and steeped in sin, in comes the Babylonians who captures Israel and cart them off to Babylon.

And while they are in Babylon, they are traumatized, it’s true. Check out the book of Lamentations if you don’t believe me.

But while they are there, they receive a word from God about what God has in store.

He starts off with a little reminder of his credentials: I am the LORD, your Holy One, the Creator, your King. All capitol letters. Just in case anyone had forgotten.

Then God reminds them of what he did in Egypt when he delivered the Israelites from the Pharaoh: verse 16, “who makes a way in the sea, a path in the mighty waters, who brings out chariot and horse, army and warrior; they lie down, they cannot rise, they are extinguished, quenched like a wick.” Do recognize the imagery? God reminds the people of their story and actually promises them a greater exodus from Babylon than they had from Egypt.

Verse 18, Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old.” That’s history, good history, but it doesn’t even compare to how I will heal you now. “I am about to do a new thing;” says God, “now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.” Rivers in the desert? Please. A rarity, it’s true. You can definitely spot a river in a desert because the little patch around it on your map will be green but all the rest of the map will be brown. But that’s what God promised the Israelites. I am about to do a new thing, says God. Take hope.

"I am."

Not "you are."

"I am."

The great I AM takes the initiative to rescue Israel and I believe God will do the same for us today.

In fact, the more we are aware of our inadequacies, the more we recognize our need for God. God is not about guilt and self-loathing. God is about grace. God is about empowerment and forgiveness. Put the old stuff behind you, I am doing a new thing, God says.

I think God offers us the same promises today. You cannot be a good person on your own. Anorexic eating habits won’t make you a healthy person. Forgiveness doesn’t come naturally. Being the perfect friend is impossible.

But when we open ourselves to the grace of God, who sees our sin, sees where we need growth and loves us anyway, something changes.

It’s not always dramatic, but it is little by little. God does not need to rescue us from the Babylonians or Mexico or Iraq. But God does need to rescue us from materialism, self-loathing, greed, selfishness, etc.

You know there were Israelites who chose to stay in Babylon. They’d set up a nice house there, gotten some real pretty Babylonian wives, their businesses were booming despite the fact they were foreigners. Why leave when they were finally comfortable?

There were some who chose to stay. But for those who longed for home, God was ready to take them there despite their sin, despite their loneliness, despite their confusion. God was ready.

“I am about to do a new thing. Don’t get stuck looking back wishing and hoping and resolving for an old time when you were skinnier, happier, healthier, and had a great boyfriend. What I’ve got in store for you is so much better.”

No more guilt, only forgiveness. No more self-loathing, only grace. If we are willing to release ourselves to trusting and loving the Lord, the Holy One, the Creator, the King, the one who made the first resolution to love us in the first place.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Actually, my motto for the year will be a quote from Thoreau which was also on the invitations I sent out last year for my ordination.

"Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you've imagined."

That's my goal for 2007.

In honor of the new year and in reflecting on the past year, I resolve to (in the words of Bridget Jones) "stop forming romantic attachments to any of the following: alcoholics, workoholics, sexaholics, commitment-phobics, peeping toms, megalomaniacs, emotional f*ckwits, or perverts."

Hmm. Not exactly how I would have written it, but a good motto to date by nonetheless.

So obviously I watched Bridget Jones' Diary today, but also Pride and Prejudice of which Bridget's books and movies are loosely based. Here's one of my favorite lines from P & P.

Elizabeth: Did I just agree to dance with Mr. Darcy?
Charlotte: I dare say you will find him amiable.
Elizabeth: It would be most inconvenient since I have sworn to loathe him for all eternity.

I love it. Expecially with the brittish accents. "Since I have sworn to loathe him for all eternity." Hilarious.

And yet so like us.

I like it indeed.